I'm starting to do a series of Storybook Hours at my local library this fall. What a cute, cute way to give back to the community and steal some adorable time with littles. I am preparing my first Storybook time session, which will focus on the book, 'We're Going On A Ghost Hunt,' by Marcia Vaughan. I love this book as it follows 2 kiddos on a festive trick-or-treating adventure. While they are running into all sorts of Halloween fun, there are many rhythmic, repetitive and highly descriptive verses. Since my age group will probably be 2-4 year olds, this book also provides the opportunity to get the kiddos up and moving while they act out the pages in the story.
After our read aloud, I have a few simple station crafts planned. Since I will be working with a new group of kiddos, I will be keeping the activities easy, mess free and appropriate for many ages. Yet, they are still fun and be sure to keep the kiddos excited to come back!
Can't wait to enjoy a new group of kiddos. Happy Fall Y'all!!!
STATION 1: Simple Cotton Ball Glue & Go Ghost
STATION 2: Masking Tape Mummy
STATION 3: P is for Pumpkin Coloring Sheet
So, I have this master plan for reading to my kiddos each day this summer. Today is Day 1. I will let you know how this works out. I have one nugget entering 1st and the other 4th. I debated if I should select a story that I could read to both of them. Given the age and gender difference and general propensity to choose the opposite from each other out of shear ability, I decided that I would make this a little one on one time. If the other wants to listen in, bonus!!! So, I am going to start a list of my reads. I want this to be something that is just fun. I am not going to be pointing out words, highlighting phonemic awareness or talking about sentence structure. The purpose of this is to get my kiddos loving and exploring new worlds in a manor that does not involve a screen (ie. our beloved Minecraft and Roblox).
I will let you know how this little project unfolds..... As I read these picks, I will follow up with how my nuggets and I enjoyed them. Here's hoping I make it to Day 5! Wish me luck!!!!
'Gooseberry Park' by Cynthia Rylant
'Ginger Pye' by Eleanor Estes
'Little Dog Lost' by Marion Dane Bauer
'Detective Gordon: The First Chase' by Ulf Nilsson
'George's Marvelous Medicine' by Roald Dahl
'The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case by Alexander McCall Smith
'The One and Only Ivan' by Katherine Applegate
'Wonder' by R. J. Palacio
'The BFG' by Ronald Dahl
'Mystery at the Club Sandwich' by Doug Cushman
Can I let you in on a little secret? Mother's Day...... Not really my favorite day. I am a blessed mom of 2 lovely kiddos and a daughter to a loving mom, but I could take a knee on this holiday. Am I selfish? What's the deal? Should I thank God for this very special day to be honored and honor those around me? In the interest of catchy social media, I will give you my lackadaisical attitude on Mother's Day in 4 Simple Principles.
I'll start out with a little disclaimer in the fact that I am a bubbly, happy cookie. I mean... that type of gal that definitely gets a few eye rolls as I greet my friends and even strangers with an over the top welcome! I seem to take it up a few more notches when you add some cute kiddos to the mix. It's not forced, fake or a muse, it is just me.... the way that God made me. So, why on earth am I not thrilled of the idea to spend a special day with my loved ones?
One: I'll start out with the first one. I am busy!!! It is a crazy, busy time of the year. I did a little research (aka googled) and according to Wikipedia, Anna Jarvis established the 1st Mother's Day in 1908. Thanks, Anna! So, I am going to guess that Anna was not busy just finishing a big Easter celebration, managing 1st Holy Communions, shuffling kiddos among the spring sporting leagues, packing up boy scouts for their annual camping trip, gearing up for Memorial Day, volunteering for year end school celebrations (and there are many!!!!), handling Teacher's Appreciation, planning for dance recitals, organizing end of year school thank you gifts, and the list continues. I am not sure what Anna was doing and I am quit sure that she spent countless hours tending to her home, washing clothes, probably didn't have any 'me' time and understood the true meaning of farm to table cooking verses my sad attempt of plucking one tomato out of our garden to adorn our Trader Joe's frozen veggie bite dinner fresh out of the microwave. Yes, Anna set the stage for one more item on my Spring 'To Do' list. Thank you, girlfriend!
Two: The day is not really about me. Let's call it what it is. Mother's Day is not about me as a mom. In my case, it is is about my mom, mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law. Since I have to organize what we will be doing, I will be the one hosting a Mother's Day Brunch. I could have my husband in charge, but fair or unfair.... He will never do it right!!! Okay, first....I complain about a lot of things, but my husband is usually not one of them. I really hit the jackpot or well....craftily selected the right one. Either way, I am loved, heard and always forgiven. I can't ask for more. Yet, if my husband were to take care of Mother's Day brunch, there would not be a lovely table setting, fresh flowers, appropriate beverages, fun surprises for the kiddos, carefully selected and beautifully wrapped gifts, homemade baked treats, and there is NO WAY he could coordinate and actually convince my daughter to don a lovely outfit as this involves a calculated skill level that takes years of perfecting. This might be an issue of control and that is fair game. -Yet, this is supposed to be my special day. Why can't I have it all?
Three: There is no Day After!!! So, every since my son was born, my NEW favorite holiday is the Day After. I love the day after Christmas, day after Easter, day after birthdays, day after Halloween, day after Thanksgiving, etc.... I am an interesting blend of someone that adores people, gatherings and celebrations!!! Yet, when my home is filled with all the amazing people, joy, laughter and love that God has put into my home, I sometimes can not take it all in. I am enjoying myself, but get lost in the crowd. I'm less focused on my children, don't even know where my husband is and am trying mostly to make sure everyone is comfortable, fed and Very unthirsty!! Yet, on the day after...... That's the day. That's MY DAY!!! The crowds have left, the dust has settled and that is MY time with MY family. I get to truly see and enjoy the special moments with my children. I can hear them again. They can share with me what they loved and what didn't go so well. They give me a recap of what went down in the basement (that's were the real kid dirt goes on). We can stay in our PJ's a little longer or the whole day. There is NO COOKING (thank you, God) because our home is filled with food. We are left with time to play board games, shuffle cards, watch movies, sit by the fire and make hot cocoa to wash down all our left over goodies!!! It's the day after, that I can truly thank God for all of my many blessings, process the joys in my life, and RELAX because my immediate workload has been lightened for the next week or so or at least a day.
Yet, Mother's Day is just sandwiched in there on a busy Sunday in May. -And, a Sunday of all days?That's the day where I spend half of my day at church and the other half regrouping and resetting for the week. All moms know the drill... book bags, water bottles, uniforms, instruments, laundry, lunches, dinner, snacks, calendar updates, scheduling conflicts, PTO prep, etc. I don't have my special 'day after' detox on Mother's Day where the true holiday joy lies for me and my much needed prep day is cannibalized.
Four: I have a little extra something to make Mother's Day a tough one for me as my mom has Alzheimer's. The amazing, God loving, graceful me would feel very honored and blessed to share in these special moments with my mom as my days with her are ever changing and coming to end. The better me would be reflective and thankful for all of the amazing years that I had in the past. Yet, the live and uncut version of me is just annoyed and angry that this lady sitting next to me is no longer my mom. She is not the elegant, beautiful women that was poised, put together, dressed to a tee and full of life. She is no longer the playful, lighthearted and let's order a extra large brownie for dessert after lunch on Sunday afternoon mom. She can no longer take me shopping at JCPenney's (my dad worked there for 30 some years so we got a discount) and remind me with a smile on her face that, "we won't tell dad," as she would pull cash out of her own work money envelope. Most of all, she is no longer the person that I can turn to when I need help with the kiddos, guidance, cheer leading or a good laugh. I can tell you that I did not know that she was that pillar for me until that support was gone. I do not have that mom anymore.
I have a woman that is slowly slipping away and I have yet to find the grace, joy and acceptance of such. I hate Alzheimer's with a passion and everything that it has done to my mom, dad, brother and my own family. It is pretty tough for me to don that big smile and celebrate my mom when I don't really have my mom to celebrate. -And I know that I am not alone in this journey as so many have lost their moms or other loved ones to this disease, many other illnesses, and countless other circumstances. So, it is with a heavy heart that I pray for God to give me and all those in need the strength and wisdom to navigate through this potentially tough holiday.
So, there are my quick and dirty 4 principles for openly saying that I could skip over that 2nd Sunday in May, and be just fine. With that being said, I just had my son's 9th birthday party yesterday, and I was filled with love, laughter and joy. I am so blessed and honored to be a mom. I do not feel this way all the time and don't get me started on how I am feeling @ 4pm homework time, but I most certainly feel it often enough so if I must down a Momosa this May 14th, so be it!
Matthew 5:8 New International Version (NIV)
8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."
I am that person that can wake up one morning, hop out of bed, adore my first cup of coffee and thank God for my wonderful life. I have the best husband, 2 healthy kids, great friends, trust in the Lord, more material nonsense than a girl could need, and the list goes on and on. Yet, by my mid-morning snack, my husband turns into my enemy (this is only in my mind of course because he has no idea), I find myself raising 2 ungrateful little people, I'm not loving how my jeans fit, and my never ending busy schedule is driving me nuts. In a matter of 3 hours, my life turns from one that is blessed and amazing to one that is in need of more. When I am in the moment, my laundry list of unhappy events seem so very real. Yet, If I take a moment to reflect, I realize that it has a lot more to do with me and my vantage point of the situation verses true reality.
With most things in life, I think the best way to get yourself into trouble is to over think. Although life is full of unforeseeable twists & turns (which seem to increase in magnitude, trickiness and occurrence for me lately), things are usually not quit as confusing as we make them out to be. I find that situations only get complicated for me when I push God away or forget about His presence in my life. When I get stuck focusing inward, I tend to see all the bad, grey, dingy stuff. Yet, when I look up and outward to the Lord and all the amazing people and goodness He has put into my life, I am better able to view things through those rose colored glasses.
As I move closer to that 40th birthday cake (is that old or young... depends on the audience), I meet more and more people with such varying perspectives. I know people that have a negative story to share each and every time I see them. I feel as though it is almost all that they know. They only understand how to communicate via misery and carry a weighted cloud along with them in their journey through life. I also have the joy of spending time with people that seem to only see the good. They turn any and every situation into a pure 'love of the Lord' moment. Sometimes, I even wonder if they are just trying to fool themselves (and if they are... good for them)!!! I truly believe that how you view things in life is a part of who you are and how God created you, but I also think that your attitude is something that can be gradually changed over time and with practice. It is almost like a muscle and the more that you find the delight in even the most mundane of events, the more that you will have joy and peace in your heart.
Matthew writes in chapter 5 verse 8 that, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God". I think there is so much to be said in this tiniest and simplest of verses. It is not complicated. There is no grand strategy that can 'fix' your life and make things perfect. Life is messy. It just is. Yet, by relying on the Lord and finding peace in His presence, you can take 'your head out of the game' and just follow His journey. There will be good moments and bad moments, but they will all be moments in the eyes of the Lord. Only He can help you conquer your daily tasks in the most joyous of ways. Life is so very precious and so very easy to take for granted. Yet, if you turn to the Lord more often, I almost bet that the glass will gradually start filling up. Give it a whirl!!! Your love and joy in the Lord will speak volumes and rub off on each and every person that you touch in your life... the best form of evangelizing EVER!!!!
I have always loved this portrait by W.E. Hill, 'My wife and mother-in-law'. I first saw it in my guidance counselor's office in 3rd grade. It is such a simple take on how perspective makes all the difference in the world. You can view this photo to see a young lady's profile looking behind or an old lady gazing downward. Some can perhaps only see one version or some may see both immediatley. Just as in life, perspectives can and will change. You just need to take a moment to let the process unfold!
So, Lord, I pray that you give me the strength, guidance and glory to see the true wonder of Your creations. You have blessed me so much and present Yourself in my life through the littlest of events. I pray that I can use Your grace to see the good in my life. I pray that I look at the mountain of dirty clothes, toys strung about the home, fingerprints on the counters and glitter in the cracks of my hardwood floor as a true gift from You! I ask that You help me to make lemonade more often than not. Also, I pray that I have Your patience to understand that sometimes I am going to easily see Your joy and sometimes I am going to really need to lean on You to find the good. Thank you, Lord, for unconditional love and support as I need it always!!!. AMEN!
There is not much in life that can't be helped with a yummy, comfy cookie and a cozy mug of coffee, tea, or cocoa. It gets even better when the cookie is grain-free, only 3 ingredients and take 15 min to make (start to finish including bake time).
I usually have a batch of these guys on hand as they are the perfect, sweet treat that is full of protein, fiber, healthy fat and just enough sugar to make them pleasantly sweet. They are a great breakfast on the go and the perfect canvas for add ins... raisins, cranberries, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips or anything you can think of!!!
3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookie
It is a cold, snowy day and I thank God for every minute that our power stays on as it means one more moment in the kitchen making soups, breads, cakes, hot cocoa and more!!!! It's my favorite way to spend a snowy day. I will let the hubby and kiddos hang in the snow, clear out the driveway and welcome them back inside with warm, yummy treats! Fair?
I was playing around with a great granola bar recipe that is full of the energy that I need to keep going all day long, but lacking in the added sugar and extra nonsense. This is a great on the go snack, but also one of my favorite indulgent, afternoon bites. A touch of coffee and this healthy, but decadent treat helps get me through the second have of that long afternoon. I love this recipe because it is so versatile and you can throw anything in there based upon likes and time of the year!
Here is what I created today....
Homemade Granola Bar Recipe
Now... here's where the fun begins. Consider this a kitchen sink recipe. This is the template, but you have fun. You can substitute in soy, almond, cashew, sun or any variation for the peanut butter. You can use honey, agave or maple syrup instead of sugar for the sweetener. Feel free to throw in oats instead of quinoa. -And sky is the limit with various types of nuts, dried fruits, chocolate chips (plain or white or butterscotch or peanut butter or anything you can get your hands on)! I love doing a white chocolate chip & dried cranberry combo in the winter and maybe a traditional chocolate chip & raisin version in the summer. Get creative, have fun & stay warm!!!
I LOVE beets. They are rich in vitamins, iron, maganese, copper, magnesium, potassium and more. I also love beets as they are radiant in vibrant color and are happily available all times of the year! For the most comprehensive article on beets, check out '25 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Beets'
at Well-Being Secrets.com and a quick read of '8 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Eat Beets' can be found at Health.com.
This is a simple, super clean recipe that provides a little bit of fancy on your dinner plate! It offers that salty, sweet velvety taste that is a great addition to any dish! You could also eat just as is with a few nuts or seeds sprinkled on top for an added extra layer of texture!
I've also noticed that as it sits in the fridge for a few days it reminds me more and more of a ketchup type condiment that I adore as a dipping option for my potatoes and chicken.
Slow Cooker Beet & Apple Puree Recipe
So, I am going through a tough time with my Kinder daughter. Wow!!! Did God make her very unlike me? He has a plan and she is just how He wants her to be. Yet, God's creation of me and His creation of her are having a tough time existing.
Me: I worry about everybody, want to please others to a fault, hard on myself, HATE getting in trouble, do not get over things easily, and bottle up emotions so everything looks just dandy on the outside.
My Bean: She does NOT care what others think (I plan to use this in the teen years), displays boisterous levels of emotions, moves from devastated to elated in 2 seconds, finds joy in bending those rules (okay, I do too), must always have the final word, and is wise beyond her years.
Last Sunday, I was honored to sponsor this amazing family joining our church. They have a beautiful 1st grader and their baby that was being baptized. I wanted to get both of the kiddos something to celebrate the big event, but of course ran out of time. With my always fit it in attitude, I rushed to CVS at 7am in hoping that I could use my creative magic to make it look like this was well thought out. They had HAD nothing!!! -And I do mean nothing (well CVS is lovely and I support them for all things medicine, make-up, sunscreen, snacks & more, but not baptismal celebrations... surprising, huh)? Not ready to give up, I thought... I don't teach Sunday School this week so I can slip out to Target and pick up a few things after I drop the kiddos off. I will get back to church just in time. Perfect! Then, I thought Kiddo's Choice!!! If they want to come to Target to help pick out something, I will consider that a lovely lesson worthy of swapping Sunday School for. So, I asked if they would rather attend Sunday School or my errand of 'giving'? My 3rd grader chose Sunday School (shoot... I actually get along with him) and my Kinder chose errand (of course)! Okay, I can make that happen. So, I drop my 3rd grader off, run back to the car, drag my daughter back into the car, zip to Target, run in and then it begins.
She KNEW this was NOT about her getting something so she did not go there, but she still had to steer the ship. "You said I GET TO PICK THE TOY," she demands after I march to the Shopkins isle. "I did... so pick!", I blurt back!!! She didn't want to choose from my options and promptly started loudly whining. Now, I KNOW that my nugget did NOT care what we got. Yet, she had in her adorable, nugget head that she was going to make this tough on me no matter what. We continued to have a series of battles over the next 20 minutes from the card to the gift bag to the color of the tissue paper to where we checkout. I arrive at the register, nervously looking at my watch and feeling like I just completed a mile under 6 minutes. I was stressed and worn down. When I get unhappy or overwhelmed, I get quiet. That's it. There is no yelling. What's the point? My husband knows that silence = not good and lots of noise (probably too much ) = happy! Very simple.
I wearily walk back to the car while holding her hand. Well, maybe not as she pulled away to enforce that she does not need my grasp. She breaks the silence by saying, "Mom, do you know that I love Dad more than you?"
I didn't and still don't know what to do with that? On one hand, it 's kind of funny because I gave up my way of life, career, social calendar, and even my body to have and raise my kiddos. My husband lived in NYC for a year while I had a 2 1/2 year old and was pregnant. I was a young mom with a hubby out of town and far away parents, but I made it. I am that mom that would rather stay home with my littles for pizza and a movie on a Friday night than go out. Yet, she picks Dad! Listen, I have always been Daddy's Little Girl and I have a bond with my son like no other. So, okay... it is, what it is. Yet, I was bothered for two reasons. One, she said that ONLY to be mean to me. That was her sole purpose. She knew, so wisely, that she could hurt me like no other with that statement and she used it. Two, does she get that I truly, often don't enjoy my time with her? This is probably the bigger issue and part of the problem.
I have no simple, happy wrap up answer to this post. My journey with parenting and well just basically existing with my daughter continues to unfold. I do know that it is a dance everyday with her where I need to find that balance of letting her be free, ensuring that she understands boundaries, and maintaining my sanity. She is that kiddo that would be in her room the ENTIRE day if I called her out on everything that she did contrary to what I told her. The miracle is that she behaves just fine in school (God, I pray this continues)!!!! I hope this shows that she truly understands right from wrong, but pushes her limits at home where she needs that outlet.
So, I pray.... God, give me strength with my youngest nugget. Help me to find the joy and wonder of her spunky sass (I have a touch of this too, but it manifests itself oh so differently). God, I pray that you help me know that raising my daughter should be less about me, and more about raising the person that You created. You put my feisty, spirited coconut here to do so much, and I just need Your strength to help channel all that spunk in Your direction!!! AMEN!
So, if you pick up nothing else from this blog , I would love for you to walk away with this little nugget of cooking (it's not even cooking) wizardry! You will oooohhhh & awe anybody with this Homemade Apple Butter. Yet, I do not even think I can call it a recipe because it is just so simple. I adapted this precious find from thebusybaker.ca. Thank you, Chrissie!!!
Here we are in 4 Easy Steps...
Enjoy and be sure to tell everyone you meet that you make your own Apple Butter (I do)!
If this does not fill me with God's Spirit?
Celtic Thunder's performance of 'Hallelujah' is just truly amazing!!!
I can't even put words to it.
Take a moment to watch below.
I'm Rachel Myers, a mom of 2, married to my college guy, former Corporate America gal that stayed home with the kiddos, and preK teacher working on my Masters in Education. This is my little spot to reflect and make it through my journey. Sometimes I lean on Christ and sometimes I forget. Along the way, I love finding inspiration from others, spreading the good in people and finding the joy in God !